Safe to use bleach if you have a septic?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by pamintexas, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. pamintexas

    pamintexas Well-Known Member

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    I've read that you shouldn't use bleach if you have a septic system because it kills the bacteria that helps in decomposition. Would it be okay to clean my kitchen sink with Comet or use one of those diluted bleach cleaners in the shower if I only used a small amount? I don't have the washing machine hooked up to the septic so using Clorox on the laundry is not a worry.
     
  2. Kris in MI

    Kris in MI Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I rarely use bleach, partly because of the septic issue and partly because my (and two of my kids') skin is really sensitive to chlorine. My 'scouring powder' of choice is baking soda. For stubborn grime, sprinkle with baking soda and spritz on some vinegar, and let it bubble away (great for cleaning the stove top) then wipe with a sponge.

    Is there a reason you like to use bleach products for cleaning? If it's for germ killing, white vinegar kills something like 99% of germs and bacteria. I avoid chemical and bleach cleaners, and my kids are some of the healthiest in their school. In fact, none of the four of them missed a single day of school in 2003/2004 due to illness, and we were the only family that could say that!.

    If it's for hard water/rust stains, soaking in white vinegar will take care of that too. And for shower walls, and bathtubs, well unless they are horrible (in which case I use a little of 'The Works'), vinegar and lots of elbow grease should take care of soap scum and water marks. For toilets, get them clean (bleach or a good shot of the works) then swish them daily or every couple days with just the water in there and the toilet brush to keep the bowl from getting 'dirty' looking.

    You can also 'help' re-establish good enzymes and bacteria in your septic by feeding it soured milk/dairy products, yogurt, or yeast (we feed ours the sediment left over in the carboy from homebrewing dh's beer). You don't need the commercial products made to 'feed' your septic, they are a waste of money.
     

  3. havellostmywings

    havellostmywings Well-Known Member

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    well, I have an aerobic septic system and you HAVE To add cholorine bleach to it... a gallon a month... soooooooooooo I clean with bleach... two birds with one stone...

    my understanding on how this system works, is its like a settlement pond and water treatment plant... the heavy stuff sinks to the bottom and the rest is put thru a treatment and filtration process.. which then waters part of my yard... the water level and pH balance have to be at a certain level for this to occur.

    So.. i faithfully clean with bleach... and I add a couple of cups directly to the system also, since there is a opening to do this.

    Yanno... I grew up living mostly in homes with septic systems and my mother always had the washer empty into the septic system and she always cleaned with bleach.. and I dont ever remember having any problems with the systems... the only one my parents ever did have a problem with was one where the previous owner built a cement slab over the leach field...

    so I guess it would honestly depend on what kind of septic system you have and what you think your septic system should do...

    Hugs
    Lynn in Texas and Reno in a Week
     
  4. jgbndaudio

    jgbndaudio Well-Known Member

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    Hello,

    I have also grown up knowing many septic systems. Chances are good that if you don’t use a lot of bleach, you’ll be ok. However, I've determined that it's simply not a good idea to use bleach; after all it is a poisonous chemical! Is it worth the risk, to get your sink or white clothes that much whiter? If you have a septic system chances are good that you also have a well. Even if they are not next to each other the bleach can leech in to your well water.

    Scotty


     
  5. Shagbarkmtcatle

    Shagbarkmtcatle Hillybilly cattle slaves

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    Yes, it's ok. The first thing we do when a customer has a water test with bacteria in it is chlorinate the well. We take off the well cap and dump a gallon of chlorox down it. Then we run all of the house faucets wide open until we cant' smell the bleach anymore. All of this goes straight to the septic tank. Then we have the lab come out and retest the water again. Unless you plan on dumping gallons of bleach down the drain at one time, you shouldn't have any problems.
    Laura Lynn
     
  6. pamintexas

    pamintexas Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for the excellent information. I learned much more than I expected. I love this forum!
     
  7. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    "Yes, it's ok. The first thing we do when a customer has a water test with bacteria in it is chlorinate the well. We take off the well cap and dump a gallon of chlorox down it. Then we run all of the house faucets wide open until we cant' smell the bleach anymore. All of this goes straight to the septic tank. Then we have the lab come out and retest the water again. Unless you plan on dumping gallons of bleach down the drain at one time, you shouldn't have any problems."

    Can't dispute this may work but it is not the generally recommended method. Usually several gallons of bleach are used and the water, via a hose, put back down the well until the water column is completely saturated. Then each faucet is opened until a bleachy-smell starts (be sure to flush commodes also until tank has the odor). Leave set at least overnight. Then the next morning open an outside faucet and allow a hose to run in an area in which nothing will be killed by the excess bleach. After that water is running clean (completely odor free, no taste), run the inside faucets until they also run clean. This avoids putting any amount of excess bleach into the septic tank.

    I also have my washing machine draining separately. I don't worry about the small amount of bleach I use for cleaning or laundry. It is a 1,000 gallon tank afterall. One pint worth is something like a 8,000/1 saturtion.

    The only laundry I add bleach too is my white/gray socks as I am prone to fungal foot infections. But then I no longer wear white Ts either.

    On bacteria in water, I get my household water directly from a spring. Never had it tested, but it hasn't seem to have made either me or anyone else sick either.
     
  8. boren

    boren Well-Known Member

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    I try to avoid using bleach if I can. But, with dairy goats we have to use bleach to disinfect everything. 99% isn't good enough for me, and there's just to much to be boiling all the time. I figure most houses with a few goats or cows are on a septic system and it hasn't hurt them. :)

    My 2 cents.
     
  9. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    ken while i agree that laura lynn's method needs work (some wells are a lot bigger than others ours is dug with artesian flow a gallon is a drop in the bucket!) her idea of running all the faucets gets the chlorine through all the pipes and if they have a contaminated well the pipes are also contaminated ! bleach in small quantitys will not hurt a septic system . a municiple treatment plant is a large waterseperation digestion system and largely the water they are treating is cholorinated.
     
  10. .netDude

    .netDude Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the process of moving into my new house. It's been unoccupied for close to a year, and the water really stinks (almost makes you gag when you walk in the room after running it). So, I dumped a couple gallons of bleach down the well, let it sit for half an hour, then let the water run for about 3 hrs. (didn't follow Ken's suggestion; didn't have the hoses yet to reroute the water back to the well, nor the patients to wait overnight...). Well, after about a half hour of the faucets running, a lot of grey/black colored water started coming out. That ended after another half hour and the water started clearing up, with just a slight dirt smell remaining. I never had any bleach smell at all, do I need to run it longer? I think it maybe an artisian well, not sure, how would I be able to find out? And, for that matter, what's an artisian well?
    What was the grey stuff after a half hour of running water? Does anyone use an Anderson water system or a Culligan system? Any success?

    Thanks - Greg
     
  11. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    I use chlorine in all my wash, and my septic is good and healthy.
     
  12. Shagbarkmtcatle

    Shagbarkmtcatle Hillybilly cattle slaves

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    This is the county recommended way to get a passing water test. That is what we are after when we do this. The well will still be contaminated and will most likely need a UV light installed. This is done when selling a house most of the time.